Will the Golf Industry Abandon the PGA Show
That was the pronouncement of a 30-year industry veteran over dinner Saturday. His experience drapes him in rich, solid credentials, the kind you get and maintain by not making such statements lightly.
And as he said it, his voice blended sadness and realism. He echoed the suspicion of many who believe that the golf industry has evolved past trade shows, or soon will.
Nothing about the outward appearance of this years show, the 49th of its kind, betrayed a hint of obsolescence. There were aisles and aisles of shiny clubs, spanking new balls, desirable bags, handsome clothing, and more. Smiles and handshakes passed freely between old friends and new. There was energy in the air and a spring in many steps, even those who said attendance felt off compared to other years.
Full Coverage of the 2002 PGA Merchandise Show
Nike introduced new clubs that quickened the pulse of anyone who loves the classic look of forged irons. Titleist showed us Son of Pro V1, along with some forgings of its own. Golf writers spent the early part of the week clobbering drives with Pings TiSi Tec, Clevelands Launcher, TaylorMade-adidas 200 Series, and a number of other drivers. True Temper showed off a new BiMatrx and a very light steel shaft, the TX90.
But before the show even began, the industry knew that Ping had decided to be absent starting next year. Ping executives explained privately that they had no quarrel with Reed Exposition, the company that bought the show from the PGA of America in 1998. They simply did a cost-benefit analysis and decided that their marketing dollars could be better used (deployed is the fashionable marketing-speak word for it) on other programs.
Its a hard decision to argue with. Ping has for years brought retail accounts and clubfitters to its facilities in Phoenix to show them the operation from top to bottom. They share the stage with no one, and everyone leaves with a clear and comprehensive understanding of how Ping approaches the golf business.
They also leave with new or solidified relationships with the Solheims and other Ping staffers. Thats what Ping execs are referring to when they say their show decision involved more cost effectiveness than can be measured in dollars. Callaway executives, who in 2000 started inviting press and retailers to a major company event in October, agreed.
The difficulty of finding quality time at the PGA Show for relationship building has been a topic of evening conversation at the last four or five shows, and it all stems from a kind of embarrassment of riches. There are so many good people in this little industry, and so many interesting products to see, that it seems as if there is an average of 38 seconds per person an attendee wants to see. That sentiment is nearly universal now, from sales force to manufacturers to golf pros to press.
Pings determination earned the praise of top competitors such as Titleist and Callaway, each of whom turned up the volume on perennial cries for examination of show strategy. Wally Uihlein, president of The Acushnet Co. (which owns the Titleist, Pinnacle, FootJoy and Cobra brands), promised an evaluation of his empires plans within three to six months.
Smaller exhibitors, some of whom nonetheless cover 10,000 square feet of booth space, renewed the annual complaints about being nickel-and-dimed to death by elevated fees for space rental, drayage, and even vacuuming of the carpets. They also reported ' although none wanted to be quoted ' that Reed executives are already talking about rebates as a tactic to try to avoid a rapid exodus from the show.
That threat is real. When manufacturers began to abandon the Las Vegas PGA Show after 1999, those who still attended compared the atmosphere to a flea market, or at least a setting not worthy of the premium golf equipment industry.
In a world banded by bundles of communications cables, books full of scheduled flights, and wireless backtalk, perhaps trade shows dont work well for small industries. Golf equipment will certainly be popular, subject to economic cycles. By this time next year, well see if Orlando is still the industrys Broadway.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”